A job map identifies what your customers are TRYING to get done at every step of a task while they are using your product. This differs from process mapping which simply defines only what the customer is actually doing at each step – a subtle, but important distinction.
Product managers who take the time to map out every step of the job that their customers are performing while using their products can create job maps for their products. These maps can then help them to discover what features their customers really want and thus provide a way to truly differentiate their product.
If you want to create a job map for your product, you need to keep in mind that you are not interested in finding out HOW a customer performs a particular job. Doing so would only provide you with a map of their existing solutions and activities.
Instead, your goal should be to find out what your customer is trying to use your product to get done while executing a job. What is really important is understanding what must happen at each point in the job in order for your customer to feel that the job has been successfully completed.
Here are the first four steps of creating a job map for your product:
- The first thing that you need to determine is what aspects of completing the job does your customer have to define before starting the job in order to move forward? This step will include the following sub-steps: determine their objectives, plan what approach they want to take, determining what needed resources are both necessary and available in order to get the job done, and finally selecting those needed resources. A product manager can use this step of creating a job map to look for new ways to help your customers better understand what their objectives are, making the planning of resources less complex, and just reducing the amount of planning effort and time that is required.
- The next step in building a job map is to clearly identify what inputs or items that your customer must locate in order to perform the job? Don’t overlook anything here: inputs can be both tangible (a physical computer) or intangible (the requirements that define what software does). A product manager can can investigate how intangible inputs can be simplified by making the required inputs easier to get, more available, or even better, just getting rid of the need for them altogether. Intangible inputs can also be streamlined by automating the retrieval of requirements, or providing tools to check inputs for correctness.
- Documenting how your customer must prepare all of the required inputs (and any required environments) for the job is also an important part of the job map. This is basically how the customer sets up and organizing required materials for the job. A product manager must look very carefully at these tasks. Creating ways to make setup less difficult may very well have a dramatic positive impact on how your customer views your product. Technical products that require information to be fed to them, can be improved by having the product support more ways to organize, integrate, and format the information.
- Each step in a job map may consume valuable resources or cost money or time. That is why the next step is to understand what a customer needs to confirm is correct before they proceed with a job in order to ensure that they will have a successful outcome. This can include such activities as making sure that inputs have been properly prepared, making sure that they have enough of everything that they will need, making sure that they have the proper priorities for how they want to execute the job. Product mangers need to realize that this part of completing the job is especially important. Delay can creep into the customer’s life here and often time delay results in additional expense or risk. New features that permit a customer to more easily determine that they are ready to move to the next step would be considered valuable by the customer. If this type of confirmation was actually made a part of a previous step, then that would save your customer even more time and effort.
This is not all that there is to creating a job map for your product! There are four more steps, but we’ll cover them next time.
Do you know what your customers’ objectives are when they start a job using your product? Do you keep a list of the inputs that they need to use your product to complete a job? Does your product make it easy for a customer to prepare the inputs that it will need? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.